Skip to main content

Module Reading List (2015-16)

Mao Zedong and Modern China, 1949-Present, 2019/20, Semester 1
Dr Adam Cathcart
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

There is no core text required for purchase. However, the following texts would be useful for students seeking broader treatment of the course material:

Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China

Frank Dikotter, The tragedy of liberation : a history of the Chinese revolution, 1945-57 (London: Bloomsbury, 2013)

Top of page


Mao Zedong, Yan’an, and Guerrilla Warfare, 1936-1945

Core Reading:


Mark Selden, “Yan'an Communism Reconsidered,” Modern China. 21: 8 (1995), 8-44.


Mao Zedong, “Problems of Strategy in Guerrilla War Against Japan” (May 1938), Selected works of Mao Tse-Tung. , Volume 2 (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1962), 79-112. [Available in HTML: and Pdf: ]

Reference Reading :

Chalmers Johnson, Peasant nationalism and communist power : the emergence of revolutionary China, 1937-1945. , Stanford University Press, 1962. [On 4-hour reserve in Laidlaw Library.]

Mao Zedong, “On Protracted War,” Selected works of Mao Tse-Tung., Volume 2 (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1962) [ ]. Another classic Maoist text, frequently cited well into and beyond the Cultural Revolution.

T.A. Bisson, Yenan in June 1937: talks with the communist leaders (Berkeley: University of California Center for Chinese Studies, 1973). A first-hand account of Yanan; includes Owen Lattimore’s travels there before the Sinologist ended up starting the East Asian Studies program at Leeds University.

Mao Zedong, Mao Tse-tung on literature and art. (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1960). Foundational for understanding CCP attitudes toward art and intellectuals; Mao’s 1942 speeches in particular are significant.

Feng Chongyi and David S.G. Goodman, North China at war : the social ecology of revolution 1937-1945 (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000. A fine edited volume with contributions by Joseph Esherick and other top scholars.

Harrison Forman, Report from Red China (London: Robert Hale Ltd., 1946). A classic trip by a reporter to Yanan, where he met Mao and was generally bullish about the prospects for the CCP after 1945. Many neat details and well-written.

Top of page


The Chinese Civil War, 1945-1949

Core Reading:


Joseph Escherick, “Ten Theses on the Chinese Revolution,” Modern China.. 21.1 (1995), 45-76.


Andrew Bingham Kennedy, “Can the Weak Defeat the Strong? Mao’s Evolving Approach to Asymmetric Warfare in Yan’an,” The China quarterly. , no. 196 (Dec. 2008), pp. 884-899.


Robert Watson, "Britain, the United States and the civil war in China, 1946–47," Civil wars. , Vol.1, No.2 (Summer 1998), pp.52-82

Reference Reading:

Suzanne Pepper, Civil war in China : the political struggle, 1945-1949 (Lanham, Md.: Rowman& Littlefield, 1999). [Laidlaw High Demand]

Odd Arne Westad, Decisive encounters : the Chinese Civil War, 1946-1950 (Stanford University Press, 2003). [Laidlaw High Demand]

Bland, Larry I., ed. George C. Marshall's mediation mission to China, December 1945-January 1947. Lexington, Virginia: George C. Marshall Foundation, 1998.

Victor Shiu Chiang Cheng, "Imagining China's Madrid in Manchuria: The Communist Military Strategy at the Onset of the Chinese Civil War, 1945-1946," Modern China. , Vol. 31, No. 1 (Jan., 2005), pp. 72-114.

Xiaoyuan Liu, "The Kuomintang and the ‘Mongolian Question’ in the Chinese Civil War, 1945–1949," Inner Asia., Volume 1, Issue 2 (1999), 169 – 194.

Mao Zedong, "Policy for Work in the Liberated Areas," Selected works of Mao Tse-Tung. Volume 4, December 15, 1945.

Top of page


Violent Consolidation, 1950-1953

Core Reading:


Julia Strauss, “Paternalist Terror: The Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries and Regime Consolidation in the PRC, 1950-1953,” Comparative studies in society and history. , Vol. 44, No. 1 (Jan. 2002), pp. 80-105.


Yang Kuisong, “Reconsidering the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries,” The China quarterly.. , 193 (March 2008), pp.102-121.


Mao Zedong, “The Party’s Mass Line Must Be Followed in Suppressing Counter-revolutionaries,” Selected works of Mao Tse-Tung. , Volume 5, May 1951 [ ]


Mao Zedong, “Strike Surely, Accurately, and Relentlessly in Suppressing Counter-Revolutionaries,” Selected works of Mao Tse-Tung., Volume 5, September 1950 - January 1951 [ ]

Reference Reading:

Julia Strauss, “Morality, Coercion, and State Building by Campaign in the Early PRC: Regime Consolidation and After, 1949-1956,” The China quarterly. (2006). Another important article by the SOAS authority.

Kenneth G. Lieberthal, Revolution and tradition in Tientsin, 1949-1952 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1980). Detailed and a little dry, this book describes the impact of the Korean War on this significant northern port near Beijing, and gives a local sense of the scope of the “suppress the counter-revolutionaries” and other campaigns in the early 1950s.

Edward Hunter, Brain-washing in Red China : the calculated destruction of men's minds. (New York: The Vanguard Press, 1951). A Cold War classic; includes discussion of the CCP’s propaganda drive in southeast Asia. Very influential in Western anti-communism, particularly with respect to PRC holding of American prisoners of war in Korea; leads directly to such novels/films as The Manchurian Candidate.

Top of page


The Korean War

Core Reading:


He Di, “The Most Respected Enemy: Mao Zedong’s Perception of the United States,” The China quarterly., no. 137 (March 1994), pp. 144-158.


Hao Yufan and Zhai Zhihai, “China’s Decision to Enter the Korean War: History Revisited,” The China quarterly., , no. 121 (March 1990), pp. 94-115.


The Bonds of Brotherhood: New Evidence of Sino-North Korean Exchanges, 1950-1954 ,” with Charles Kraus, Journal of Cold War studies. , Vol. 13, No. 3, 27-51.

Reference Readings:

Chen, J (1992), "China's Changing Aims During the Korean War, 1950-1951." Journal of American-East Asian Relations 1 (1) : 8-41.

Sergei Goncharov, Uncertain partners : Stalin, Mao, and the Korean War (Stanford University Press, 1993).

Max Hastings, The Korean War (London, Michael Joseph: 1987).

Cathcart, A. and Kraus, C. “The Bonds of Brotherhood: Chinese-North Korean Relations, 1945-1958,” unpublished book manuscript.

Top of page

Week 5

Chinese Communist Foreign Policy & Hong Kong

Core Reading:

[5.1.] Adam Cathcart and Patricia Nash, "People's Diplomacy and Sino-Japanese Relations" Twentieth-century China

[5.2.] and [5.3.] TBA, on Hong Kong

Reference Reading:

Dick Wilson, Chou, the story of Zhou Enlai, 1898-1976 (London: Hutchinson, 1984), particularly Chapter 16, “Geneva and Bandung, 1953-55.” Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva A smoothly-written and entertaining overview of Zhou’s role in foreign relations in this important era; not particularly rich with archival citations, but solid.

Vidya Prakash Dutt, China's foreign policy, 1958-62 (London/Delhi: Asia Publishing House, 1964). A good overview from an Indian perspective of China’s drive to establish good relations with smaller south and southeast Asian countries like Nepal and Laos. Chapters 6 and 7 are particularly useful for Sino-Indian relations, including the Tibet issue. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva

Qiang Zhai, China and the Vietnam wars, 1950-1975 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000). Very well-researched and based on Chinese documents; probably most useful for its treatment of Sino-Vietnamese relations prior to the French withdrawal in 1954.

C.P. FitzGerald, China and southeast Asia since 1945 (London: Longman Group Ltd., 1973). Brief and uncharacteristically dry for this normally-flashy author, Chapter 6 is the best summation in this text. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva

Top of page


Europe, The Great Leap, and Chinese Foreign Policy in the 1950s and 60s

Core Reading:


Dandan Zhu, “The Hungarian revolution and the origins of China's Great Leap policies, 1956–57,” Cold war history.. , (2011) Volume 12, Issue 3.

[6.2] Adam Cathcart, "Existentialists and Dragon Slayers: Sino-French Relations, 1949-1956," unpublished manuscript.


Mao Zedong, “Important Talks with Guests from Asia, Africa, and Latin America,” Foreign Languages Press, Peking review.. , 1960, pp 2-8. [Online: ]


Mao Zedong, “On The Question Of Whether Imperialism And All Reactionaries Are Real Tigers (December 1, 1958),” Peking review.. , Nos. 37 & 38, September 13, 1977. [Online: ]

Reference Reading:

Edgar Snow, The Other Side of the River: Red China Today (London: Victory Gollancz, Ltd., 1963). A rather favorable portrayal of the PRC in the years just after the Great Leap Forward; includes some discussion of Tibet. Snow takes advantage of his long track record in China and engages in various comparisons between 1960 and 1930, a rare bit of re-periodization that is not so familiar to us today.

Anne-Marie Brady, Making the foreign serve China : managing foreigners in the People's Republic (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).

An often-cited examination of how the CCP sought to both cultivate and manipulate foreign journalists. Critical discussion of Sidney Rittenberg, Anna Louise Strong, and other friends of the PRC.

Chung Hua-min, “Literature and Art,” in Communist China, 1957., Communist China Problem Research Series (Hong Kong: Union Research Institute, 1958/1962), pp. 138-153. Excellent overview of “devastation left in the wake” of the 1957 rectification in the realm of literature.

Top of page



Core Readings:


Melvyn Goldstein, A history of modern Tibet. Vol. 2, The calm before the storm, 1951-1955 , Chapter 1.


Anna Louise Strong, When serfs stood up in Tibet , Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1959.[online: ]


Adam Cathcart, “Love Song of the Foreign Imperialist: Teaching Tibetan History to American Students in the PRC,” ASIANetwork Exchange, 2012. Available online at:

Reference Readings:

Melvyn Goldstein, The snow lion and the dragon : China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

Tsering Shakya, Dragon in the land of snows : a history of modern Tibet since 1947 ( London : Pimlico, 1999 ) .

Ling Nai-min, Tibetan Sourcebook (Hong Kong: Union Research Institute, 1964). See especially Document 33, “The Dalai Lama’s Report at the Inaugural Meeting of the Prepatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet,” Ren min ri bao., 25 April 1956, pp. 144-155.

Panchen Lama, A poisoned arrow : the secret report of the 10th Panchen Lama : the full text of the Panchen Lama's 70,000 character petition of 1962, together with a selection of supporting historical documents. (London: Tibet Information Network, 1997).

Clare Harris and Tsering Shakya, eds., Seeing Lhasa : British depictions of the Tibetan capital, 1936-1947 (London: Serindia, 2003).

Hisao Kimura and Scott Berry, Japanese agent in Tibet : my ten years of travel in disguise (London: Serindia, 1990).

V.B. Karnik, ed., China invades India : the story of invasion against the background of Chinese history and Sino-Indian relations. (Bombay: Allied Publishers, Ltd., 1963). Fascinating patriotic text. Many details and the perspective is key.

Top of page


The Great Leap Forward

Core Readings:


Chris Bramall, Agency and Famine in China's Sichuan Province, 1958–1962 , The China quarterly.. , Volume 208 (December 2011), pp 990-1008.


David Bachman, “Chinese Bureaucratic Politics and the Origins of the Great Leap Forward,” Journal of contemporary China.. (Summer 1995).


Zhou, Xun. Forgotten voices of Mao's great famine, 1958-1962 : an oral history New Haven : Yale University Press, 2013.

Reference Reading:

Kimberley Ens Manning and Felix Wemheuer, eds . Eating bitterness : new perspectives on China's Great Leap Forward and famine (Vancouver : UBC Press, 2011).

Becker, Jasper. Hungry ghosts : China's secret famine (London : John Murray, 1997).

Frederick C. Tiewes and Warren Sun, China's road to disaster : Mao, central politicians, and provincial leaders in the unfolding of the great leap forward, 1955-1959 (Armonk, New York: East Gate/M.E.Sharpe, 1999). – An excellent and multi-layered account of the factors that led to China’s famine, and Mao’s personality at the center of the storm. Authoritative look at the weakening of party moderates like Chen Yun; highly recommended.

Top of page

Week 9:

The Cultural Revolution

Core Readings:


Robert Jay Lifton, Revolutionary immortality : Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese cultural revolution (London : Weidenfeld& Nicolson, 1969).


Andrew G. Walder, Fractured rebellion : the Beijing Red Guard movement (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012).

[9.3.] Melvyn Goldstein, On the Cultural Revolution in Tibet : the Nyemo Incident of 1969 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).

Reference Readings

Feng Jicai, Ten years of madness : oral histories of China's Cultural Revolution (San Francisco : China Books & Periodicals, c1996).

Li Zhensheng, Red-color news soldier ; introduction by Jonathon Spence (London :Phaidon, 2003).

Mao Zedong, “Bombard The Headquarters (August 5, 1966),” Peking review.. , No. 33, 11-3-1967. [Online: ]

Roxanne Witke: Comrade Chiang Ch'ing Tells Her Story, tid=17122&keyword=chiang

Mao Zedong, “Talk on Putting Military Affairs Work into Full Effect and Cultivating Successors to the Revolution,” June 16, 1964,

Kuo-kang Shao, Zhou Enlai and the foundations of Chinese foreign policy (Macmillan, 1996). Well-documented, sparsely written, and even-handed.

Simon Leys, The Chairman's new clothes : Mao and the cultural revolution , translated by Carol Appleyard and Patrick Goode (London: Allison & Busby, 1977). Peerless and virtuosic; also originally written in French as Les Habits Neufs du Preisdent Mao.

Top of page

Week 10–

There is no seminar this week.

Top of page

Week 11 –

Nationalism and Memory

Core reading

Mobo Gao, The battle for China's past : Mao and the Cultural Revolution (Pluto Press, 2008)

Josh Kurtzlantzick, “China’s Repressed Memory of the Cultural Revolution: Silent Revolution,” New republic. (online),

This list was last updated on 29/09/2015